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Environmental Behavior of Mineral Deposits

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Valzinco Mine, Spotsylvania County, Virginia

The Valzinco Mine operated from 1914 through World War II and exploited a Kuroko-type massive sulfide deposit containing zinc, lead and minor copper.  Low pH and elevated concentrations of iron, lead, zinc and cadmium at the site have impacted Knight's Branch of Northeast Creek.  The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy is planning to reclaim the site in 2000, beginning in late spring or early summer.  The reclamation will use a variety of techniques, including the landfilling of mine wastes, construction of water diversion channels, anoxic limestone drainages, bactericides, constructed wetlands, revegetation, and plugging of shafts.


Map showing locations of water quality samples (red circles) in the immediate vicinity of the Valzinco site.  Quarterly water sampling to determine metal and acid loads at the site is in progress at site VLZN-3.  Knight's Branch is a tributary of the North Anna River, which eventually empties into the Chesapeake Bay.
Tailings (waste) pile at Valzinco Mine. Note stratification of tailings.  Acid mine drainage impacts from Knight's Branch are dominantly derived from the weathering of mine tailings in the stream valley.
Graphs of lead and zinc vs. pH showing metal levels that exceed the U.S Environmental Protection Agency's acute toxicity values for aquatic ecosystems.  These plots show increased solubility of heavy metals with more acidic pH.

 Collaborators include the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

Project Studies: Bald Mountain, ME || Elizabeth Mine and Vermont Copper belt, VT || Prince William Forest Park and Mineral District, VA || Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC & TN || Laboratory-based studies

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Last Modified: 18 January 2018